Are solving the issues of effective identity and authentication pre-requisites to delivering channel shift to low cost online public services?
The future of public services is most definitely digital: confirmed last month in the Government’s new ICT strategy. Indeed, in the Age of Austerity the potential for reducing the costs of service delivery by a switch to digital is too great to miss – but unless we can securely deliver the right service to the right people we risk even greater waste through fraud and further contact.
The London Borough of Brent has been trialling a new concept – the Mydex citizen data store – along with exploring use of the Government Gateway; Enfield, meanwhile, has implemented a new corporate authentication service with help from Serco and GB Group. The panel explored the benefits and pitfalls of getting ID and authentication right.
On the panel:
Dane Wright, IT Strategy Manager at the London Borough of Brent
Lee Grafton, Serco and Enfield’s GB Group identity solution
Gilles Polin, Adobe’s European Head of Government Solutions
Helen Olsen, Managing Editor, UKauthorITy and ITU magazine
Chances are you’ve had at least one or two (or twenty) conversations about Health Reform in the past year. In my experience, regardless of political affiliation, most people find common ground and agree that the traditional US healthcare system has presented multiple opportunities for improvement, to say the least. Among daunting issues, including inefficiencies and fraud, one of the most recurring challenges highlighted has been the lack of access to affordable health insurance for many citizens.
Deemed by many as “the great compromise,” Health Insurance Exchanges are central mechanisms created by the Health Reform legislation to help individuals and small businesses purchase health insurance – for up to 32 million newly covered members.
Beginning in 2014, a Health Insurance Exchange (HIX), also called Health Benefit Exchange (HBE), will be established in each US state and territory as an online marketplace to help consumers make valid comparisons between plans that are certified to have met benchmarks for quality and affordability. The states will manage the exchanges; and the plans offered through these exchanges will be provided by commercial payers, competing for all these new customers who don’t qualify for Medicaid.
Recently, I was invited by the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) to their annual policy conference in Washington, DC to speak on the topic “Surveying the State of the Art in Health and Human Services Technology Systems.” APHSA is a bipartisan organization representing appointed state health and human service agency commissioners from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the US territories. Their members probably know better than anyone the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead as the states prepare to implement their exchanges throughout the country.
Since Adobe has invested considerable resources in the development of an innovative user-centric solution, I was prepared to share the following top 5 key elements to implementing a successful HIX/HBE as I see it.
1. An engaging, personalized, and secure experience for each of the primary HIX/HBE stakeholders (applicant, state administrator, payer) – regardless of platform or device
2. Ease in handling of eligibility and enrollment in the Exchange as well as premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions for benefits and services
3. Agile HIX management to easily adapt content or implement policy changes that affect rules, and analytics to measure effectiveness
4. Seamless interoperability with existing federal (HHS, IRS, DHS) and state-based (Medicaid, CHIP, MMIS, etc) programs and systems
5. Prudent measures to help address fraud and streamline payer workflows, even for atypical cases
The audience was engaged as we wrapped up the session with open discussion after a brief overview of Customer Experience Management as a platform, and the critical role it plays in the evolution of our healthcare ecosystem.
As conversations turn into collaboration and the dialogue on Health Reform continues to advance, so too does the collective innovation that will help to deliver on the promise of improved access to health benefits and services for US citizens.
The environment in which creative pros work is changing at an unprecedented pace. We see trends in three areas that are impacting their ability to author and publish content:
1) The proliferation of multiple devices. It used to be quite simple to reach your target constituent. But now there are more devices than ever, with multiple screen sizes, and multiple operating systems. Just to add more complexity — you can reach them via content in a browser, or via a native app. There are over 35 different app stores today, all with different guidelines and specifications. By 2014, the number of mobile devices will be equal to the number of desktop computers. The potential of apps is clear: iOS and Android users download 9 apps per month and spend 79 minutes per day using apps, whereas just four years ago, there was no Google Android, no iPad, no Motorola Xoom, no Blackberry Playbook, no HTML5, no CSS3, no streaming video to smartphones, and no Skype.
2) The second trend we’re seeing is a demand for rich content. Static consumer content or cumbersome enterprise applications just don’t cut it anymore. People are demanding a lot more, whether as a constituent or as an employee. If you think back to 2007 when Adobe released Creative Suite 3, so much has changed since then. In 2007 there was no Groupon, no HD Flip cameras or digital magazines. Twitter had only 400,000 tweets per quarter, and you couldn’t post a photo on your Facebook wall.
3) Monetization. Content publishers have realized as they move content online they can’t rely on old business models. As traditional print advertising moved online they found their dollars reduced to dimes. They have found success experimenting with new business models such as in-app purchases of content, which were pioneered in gaming and are now moving to other industries.
These are the key trends behind a seismic shift in the industry and media landscape. Adobe is committed to enabling our customers to not only keep up with these trends, but to keep ahead of them and capitalize on them. So, we are innovating quickly in these key areas and we will be changing our release schedule in order to keep customers ahead of these trends.
Historically we’ve released new versions of Creative Suite every 18-24 months, but we are moving to a schedule of milestone releases every two years, but with releases in between that are focused on keeping customers ahead in the areas where technology is shifting. In keeping with this, we are improving CS5 with the release of CS 5.5 this spring. Please feel free to click here to find out more about this new software release that will help our customers create rich internet applications for multiple devices, and efficiently target their content across browsers, operating systems, and screens.
Over the past few years, I’ve been privileged with numerous opportunities to share my thoughts on the topic of Telework. And way back when, it seemed that the supporters of Telework for government were few and far between. Of course, there were the trail blazers, (I recall speaking on panels with such thought leaders and executors as Danette Campbell from PTO and Andy Krzmarzick from USDA. It’s been amazing to collaborate with such talent!) but by and large, back then, the idea of allowing, much less encouraging, government employees to work from home with some regularity was really a bit of a stretch.
So, with the snow and ensuing local panic over the past couple days, I’m reminded of the December 2010 signing of the Telework Act and it’s importance. Of course, it’s really easy to recognize that working from home is a benefit on days when there is bad weather, but, let’s not forget about the other benefits; work/life balance for government employees, the impact on green initiatives (less energy, elimination of paper, etc.) and the ability to reduce the cost of government to name a few.
I am just a wee bit proud of the impact that many Adobe technologies have had on enabling this landmark shift. From providing the free software that powers recognizable and trusted user experiences (PDF, Reader, Flash) to the enterprise and desktop solutions that deliver web collaboration (Adobe Connect) and digital document processes (LiveCycle, Acrobat, Creative Suites), Adobe has been helping government streamline communications and reduce the cost of business processes for years. As the promise of Telework comes to fruition, Adobe will continue to seek ways to help government and it’s employees to work better and more efficiently.
Of course, the events of the past couple days here in Washington have shown that there is still a ways to go, but, when compared to where things were just a short couple years ago, its very easy to see that significant, forward progress is being made! Maybe by next winter, there will be enough government employees empowered to work from home that “snow days” will be a thing of the past!
If you are responsible in any way for sharing information, whether within government or to the public, appropriately classifying information is always a challenge. There’s a full spectrum of possibilities between full, open disclosure and compartmentalized “need to know”. Especially post 9/11, most US agencies have worked hard to establish guidelines and best practices to allow access to the right information to the right people at the right time. To that end, many agencies have created what in the private sector would be called, proprietary classification schemes. Like any proprietary approach, it works very well within a certain scope, but, it breaks down quickly when confronted with a similar, but, alternative approach. The consequences of such a breakdown can vary from something as simple as an embarrassing situation to a life-threatening scenario.
So, as of November 11th, an Executive Order was signed named “Controlled Unclassified Information” (CUI) that is focused on solving this dilemma across the entire federal government. Assigned by the President, NARA will act as the Executive Agent for this Order, driving a process intended to rationalize the various approaches already in place across the agencies.
Standardization, what a good thing! Not only does this Executive Order pave the wave for a common taxonomy that can be explained, understood, used and defended by everyone, it also sets the stage for the ability to apply automation. As digital information has become the norm, replacing paper as the means to create, store and share, the need for better control mechanisms has never been greater. We see evidence of this in the news all the time. Leaks, whether intentional or not, have become more pervasive. However, without a standard approach to classifying information, leveraging technology to help mitigate the risks has been a challenge.
Imagine if you will, the ability to integrate enforceable, digital policies directly into information in a standard fashion that would be recognized government wide. Such policies would give the government the ability to dynamically control who can see information, how long the information is visible, what people can do with it, etc. Wouldn’t it be useful to have policies automatically assigned to documents to minimize the risks of information traveling to the wrong places?
I am quite encouraged to see policy standards such as CUI come about. What are your thoughts?
To learn about technology from Adobe to help, please take a moment and visit this link.
Perhaps you are aware of the National eID cards that have been issued to the majority of Belgium’s 10 million citizens. With the genesis of the idea going back to 2001, citizen’s have been using their eID cards to help with tax filings, job searches, social services, permits, licenses and other government provided services.
More recently, the Flemish E-Government and ICT-Management Unit launched the digital signature platform of Flanders. Leveraging the existing eID infrastructure, users of the platform now have the ability to easily apply digital signatures to PDF documents. By simply sending an e-mail with a document attached (most common formats are accepted), the platform converts it and returns to the user a ready-to-sign PDF document.
It doesn’t get much easier than that! Yet another great example of eGovernment at work! To find out more, click here.
During our candid discussion, I asked Dr. Levin for his perspectives on the Blue Button initiative and the Developer Challenge, as well as the role of Health Information Technology as it relates to his vision of empowerment for V.A. consumers.
“Why isn’t there a button on your website that I can click to access my personal medical history? A little blue button.”
That simple question was posed to the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA), and proved to be the catalyst for significant improvements in the ways that a veteran can interact with his own health data.
VA developed that Blue Button in collaboration with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Department of Defense, along with the Markle Foundation’s Consumer Engagement Workgroup.
On August 2, 2010 President Obama announced the Blue Button initiative to thousands of applauding veterans, who stood to benefit from the ability to take ownership of their Personal Health Record (PHR), downloaded from the VA website with just a click.
. *Blue Button comments begin at 24:00
That defining moment, however, was not the end of the story. Since each veteran’s comprehensive record was to be downloaded as a plain ASCII text file, the Markle and Robert Wood Johnson Foundations issued the Blue Button Developer Challenge on behalf of the VA. The goal of the challenge was to spur the innovative development of web-based solutions, enabling Blue Button users to meaningfully interact with their health data in an even more useful way. Sharing that common goal, respondents to the challenge were diverse; ranging from start-up IT companies and individual developers to Google and Microsoft.
On October 7, 2010, Adobe was announced the winner of the Blue Button Developer Challenge.
As the team lead, I had the privilege of receiving the award on Adobe’s behalf at the fourth annual Health 2.0 Conference in San Francisco from a distinguished panel featuring Aneesh Chopra, U.S. Chief Technology Officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer at the Department of Health and Human Services, and Peter Levin,Chief Technology Officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Also, I had the opportunity to deliver a presentation, highlighting key features of Blue Button Health Assistant, Adobe’s innovative solution that combines the intuitive real-time interface of Adobe AIR technology with the benefits of the secure, auditable, and ubiquitous PDF format (leveraging PDF-Healthcare Best Practices) regardless of the user’s platform, browser, or device.
Certified PDF screenshot
These benefits resonated well with the discerning team of technology powerhouses who served as judges, including Craigslist Founder Craig Newmark; Assistant Vice President of the Health Group at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Steve Downs; Consumers Union health policy expert Steve Findlay; and personal health records pioneer Dr. James Ralston of Group Health Cooperative. Submissions were evaluated on the following key criteria:
Usefulness to patients in helping them stay healthy or manage their care.
Potential to impact health and well-being by addressing high-priority health goals.
Platform neutral (can be accessed by a consumer with simple web browser).
Usability / ease of use.
As a veteran myself, it was particularly rewarding to be a part of Team Adobe throughout this incredible process. But this story, and others like it, continues on as Adobe identifies and develops more ways to leverage Open Government as more than just a concept, but rather a tool to advance agency missions.
I had the opportunity this week to visit and present at the Tennessee Digital Government Summit. I always enjoy these events because they tend to be up close and personal and this particular event was no exception! I was asked to share my thoughts about open government and the implications on state government.
When asked the question, “what does open government mean to you”, the general response from the audience was ‘open access to data’ so that citizens can ‘see where money is being spent’. With almost all state and local governments across the country being under severe budget crunches, being able to account for every dollar spent is increasingly critical. In addition, a few folks also expressed that once the citizens knew where the money was spent, the citizens could now in influence policy change. These are, of course, very good answers. Open access to data equals transparency and the ability to influence change equates to participation.
I love it! I use this idea all the time to illustrate the target audience for many government services. If my mom can’t use “it”, perhaps the service is not quite “there” yet. I bring this up because during a session during last week’s Open Government & Innovation Conference held here in DC, I heard Steve Drucker from Fig Leaf Software say that the datasets currently on Data.gov fail the “mom test.” (see this GCN article for more quotes from the session) Of course, my brain immediately went to picturing Steve’s mom (well, actually, I visualized MY mom) sitting at her computer and clicking on various links on Data.gov and trying to make any sense of what she is seeing. It was a humorous visual, if nothing else! Of course, one might argue that Steve’s mom is not the target audience for Data.gov and I would agree with that. The question is, what open government service or website DOES target our collective moms??
I personally think Data.gov is a decent enough first step on the road to open government, but, I worry that it is being positioned as more than it really is. Like it or not, Data.gov services a very small fraction of the citizens of this country, albeit, a rather loud and vocal fraction. Data is only relevant to those trained in how to analyze and synthesize it into information. In fact, I would go so far as to say that in the hands of the untrained, raw data can very easily be misinterpreted!
So, sure, let’s take a quick breath and say, something akin to ‘Step 1 is now behind us’ and get prepared for the next phase; making open government services, tools and experiences available to citizens that turn raw data into something meaningful to people, information!
Get ready mom, answers to your questions are coming!